Longeing Candy

I’m so intrigued by the method described in Anthony Crossley’s book, Training The Young Horse, that I’ve decided to follow its program as described and use Candy as a guinea pig.

The book’s schedule for months 1-3 seems quite reasonable:

Phase Month Exercises & Special Considerations Goals
1 1-3 Longeing
acceptance of the bit
searching forward


I brought Candy up yesterday and kitted her out appropriately for longeing. I stripped down Moe’s cross-country bridle and put Candy’s loose ring snaffle on it, outfitted her in a hot pink longe cavesson, dug out my ancient Dover surcingle and newly acquired (used) side reins, and put Moe’s cross country boots on her legs. For all that Candy is almost a hand taller than Moe, her petite head and legs fit into his gear much better than Gina’s!

Candy is embarrassed by the hot pink longe cavesson.
Candy is embarrassed by the hot pink longe cavesson.

Even though Candy is broke to ride, I’m treating her as the sort of very green baby horse described in the book. Here are Crossley’s instructions for the first day on the longe:

“Our sole purpose on this first day will be to get the horse used to his surroundings in general and to the longe-ring and his gear in particular. We will ask for and expect nothing except that he should walk quietly round the ring-track on the left rein.”

I took Candy to the outdoor arena since a lesson was happening in the indoor. She was just fine- she wanted to stare at the baby horse, his mother, and their miniature horse companions, but was otherwise attentive and eager to please. I kept her on a fairly short rein, with the side reins not clipped to her bit. I occasionally had to ask her to move out away from me, as she wandered in on part of the circle, but she was generally steady and even on the end of the line.

Candy thinks boots are very itchy.
Candy thinks boots are very itchy.

The book advises keeping the horse on the left rein only for the first few days, on a two or three meter circle at the walk. Once the horse has absorbed this lesson, he can be moved to doing the same thing on the right rein. As the book states, “In less than two weeks in all he will be operating obediently in both directions.”

While this seems rather slow, I’m glad to take the time to do it. As I mentioned last week, I don’t do a lot of longe work, so I need the slow timeline as much as Candy does!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

15 thoughts on “Longeing Candy”

  1. very interesting!! charlie’s ground work has progressed to something that approximates lunging, tho with a bit less gear (just a rope halter and line). we’ve started predominantly tracking left bc he seems to understand better and faster, and is much less certain about life when i ask him to track right. seems like a common enough thing, tho i’ve been trying to be conscious enough of it that i can use tracking left to introduce new concepts so he understands better, and then reaffirm while tracking right… idk if it’s right or wrong but it’s just so interesting how these greenies respond to things we might view as rudimentary or overly basic!!

    1. I gave the book some side-eye when it advised going only in one direction for a week at a time. It seems so contrary to everything I’ve ever learned! I’m interested to see if a “good” direction manifests. Charlie sounds like he’s already read the book, haha!

  2. Are there any hints for the horse who refuses to walk out on the circle? Romey just stops, does a turn on the fore, and stares at me. If I get after him with the whip he comes at me. Lunging lessons are not going well for us!

    1. It doesn’t address that at length, but it advises keeping the horse on a short line at first and prodding them gently with the whip on the shoulder if they turn in to face you. The author also recommended having an assistant lead the horse out and help it stay on the circle for the first couple of times (but if you don’t have an assistant, it’s the short line and gentle poking).

      1. Obvi I’m no expert here, but I’ve been going through the process with my greenie who knows nothing of this nonsense. We started just by teaching him to go forward off the whip cue. Not on a circle or anything – and maybe even only a lean or step forward at first. But just confirming that a light tap with whip = forward. Not sideways, not backwards, and not towards *me.* With practice he learned the cue well enough that it has grown into moving forward on a circle. Idk if this is the best way or whatever but it is working!

    2. I’ve had to undo this on a couple of horses that I’ve ridden, including Murray. (Weirdly, some people train their horses to turn in to them on the lunge which I am straight up NOT okay with in a horse I am working.) I’m not an expert by any means, but in addition to Emma and Steph’s comments I:

      1. Stay behind their girth line. Sometimes this means you walk backwards, sometimes it means you run backwards. I find that if I keep pushing the butt forward and staying behind them, they don’t have a chance to turn in, and they unintentionally end up walking in that small circle.
      2. Practice stopping WITHOUT turning in. I’ve found this to be an important part of it, because then the horses know what the correct behavior is. I always start this at the walk. I ask them to slow and slow and slow and gradually stop, which I find results in a more reasonable halt on the circle instead of them turning in. The goal is to have them standing on the circle with me in the middle for a moment, then I step up to them and pet and praise them. It’s okay if they turn in a bit, because I can always just side step a little bit toward the girth line, wait, then pet and praise. I find that if I do this for a few days consecutively I get much nicer circles in general.
      3. If you can be quick and are coordinated, a well-timed smack in the face can come in handy. It sounds inappropriate/mean/horse beating, but if a horse is invading my personal space in an unsafe way, I’m going to do whatever I need to put the kibosh on that right away. If I can get them the second they swing their head in to turn to me, that usually does the trick (for that round). A lot of them only need to be told once.
      4. Magic barn manager. If in doubt, my barn manager will either give me lessons or solve the problem for me! But you can’t have her. She is mine! 😉

      1. Thanks all for the advice! All suggestions are definitely useful. He’s a little bit of a bully and his reaction to the whip is to go after it, sometimes lunging at it from the front end, or kicking at it from the hind end, so that’s a little tricky. Such a sweet horse he is (eye roll). I wish I could borrow Magic Barn Manager! I think Romes knows he intimidates me. I think the assistant idea might be really useful. I need to phone a friend!

        1. I felt very selfish after writing that I would share my barn manager! I was just reading your bog and Romey does sound like a sweet, sweet love… You get him good!

  3. Interesting! I do like the slow pace (I am a slow learner and if I was a horse this would work well for me haha). 🙂 Excited to see how the progress goes with your guinea pig!

  4. So Miles came knowing how to lunge… sort of. He was REALLY one-sided (would drift HORRIBLY in to the left) and just knew to run, basically. My trainer did a groundwork lesson really similar to this with us, where we worked on Miles going around us in a small circle and moving appropriately away. After doing that just a couple times, and then moving the lesson to lunging, he stopped drifting in. And when he does, I can correct him. It’s amazing what some small steps can really accomplish.

  5. I love lunging so much. B was super one sided. Can you guess which way, lulz, racehorse. To the right was insanely hard for about a year. I even gave up lunging when he started laying down in temper tantrums. Eventually I slowed it wayyyyyy down and worked on cues to the left for weeks. Then slowly introduced to the right. Over time it def worked. Looking forward to your lunging lessons!

  6. I think I still have this book somewhere and it’s amazing. I used it and Klimke’s “Training the Young Horse” book back when I had no coach available to me, and my horses turned out super, particularly considering my experience level wasn’t optimum 🙂 I’m going to dig them out for a re-read this weekend, thanks for the reminder!

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